INTEGRATING NATURAL RESOURCES INTO A SITE PLAN

By: Pete Pointner, FAICP, ALA, ITE

 

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Green infrastructure is all of the elements of the natural environment that influence and support human communities – urban, suburban and rural. These elements include wetlands, surface and ground water, forests and native landscapes, urban streetscapes, parks and open space. Therefore, consideration of natural resources in site planning is central to the concept of Green Infrastructure.

The benefits of green infrastructure are many. At all scales of consideration, there are significant benefits of green infrastructure. Environmentally, it helps reduce greenhouse gasses, moderate temperature extremes, provide wildlife habitat, and preserve prime agricultural land and rural character. It can purify and return rainwater to groundwater aquifers and protect and enhance the functioning of ecosystems. Socially, green infrastructure provides people with aesthetic, recreational and health benefits by creating pedestrian and bicycle pathways to and within green areas.  Economically, trees and green plant materials can reduce flooding, improve property values and create an environment conducive to social interaction and commerce. There are many techniques for integrating green infrastructure into a site plan.  These are described and referenced in my article which is available on the Sustainability Divisions web site.

There are many techniques for integrating green infrastructure into a site plan.  These are described and referenced in my article which is available on the Sustainability Divisions web site.

The process for this integration is critical to achieving the environmental, social, economic and health benefits of green infrastructure. This article identifies the process in terms of: the importance of an interdisciplinary team; the identification and response to the direction given by the program from the client; the identification, evaluation and documentation of planning factors; and the necessity of balancing trade-offs in the evolution of a site plan. The article concludes with two illustrative case studies which show how the recommended process was applied.  The first is for an approved plan for a 158.4 hectare (396 acre) mixed use development with residential, retail/service and office components in Woodstock, Illinois.  The second covers site selection and planning for a boarding school campus within a 480 hectare (1,200 acre) forested parcel adjacent to a wilderness area in northern Wisconsin.  This school, with “environment” a key component of the teaching curriculum, has been implemented and is in operation.  Each case study presents the key components of the process: defining the program; the team formation; the existing conditions; and the planning response in terms of green infrastructure.  These two case studies have been adapted from two of the 19 case studies contained in the author’s book, “Planning Connections – Human, Natural and Man Made”. For more information on Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Design and Sustainability see, “Readings in Urban Planning and Design”, available via petepointnerplanning.blogspot.com.

Championing Sustainability in Upstate New York

 

By Joana B. Nadieu, AICP

untitledTwo and a half years ago I accepted the brand-new position of “Sustainability Champion” as an excuse to get to know more of my colleagues in the Upstate NY Chapter. Having moved to the area not long before to a job that is nationally-focused, I was out of the loop on local trends and players in sustainability.

Fast forward to now: I manage an email list of 87 people for a regional sustainability network, have organized four webinars on sustainability that have reached over 1000 attendees featuring case studies from our region, and put together three state chapter sessions in New York State. Through this work, I have met and learned about planners doing sustainability work from New Hampshire to Washington DC on topics from transportation resilience to sustainable stormwater management and renewable energy.

How did this start? Thanks to great support from Anne Miller (Champions coordinator), Scott Turner (Division Chair), Beth Otto, and others, I established a presence for the Division at regional and state conferences. I started off by snagging a table at the Northeast APA Conference – a special regional conference event hosted by several state chapters – and getting people to sign up for what is now called the Northeast Regional Sustainability Network. We distributed copies of the APA Sustainability Policy, Sustaining Places report, and talked with like-minded community leaders and colleagues in allied professions.

Because of the dispersed nature of those who were initially interested and the lack of state sustainability committees in the region, we opted to meet via conference call and invite anyone who was interested to attend. After one call, the group decided to use webinars as a structure for group conversations and learning. Through the Planners Webcast Series, Northeast Sustainability Network webinars featured:

  • Research by Dr. George Homsy on the state of sustainability alongside examples of community planning from three states – recording available here (A similar session is slated for the 2017 National Planning Conference in NYC!);
  • Guidance on sustainability metrics from state and local level perspectives – recording available here, and An exploration of planning for resilience in transportation systems across the country – recording coming soon.

Our hope was to help connect planners in the northeast with others who have incorporated sustainability into their work, and also give them a platform to share their lessons learned and resources with the national APA membership.

We have been pleased with the diversity of participants and the discussion stimulated by these events among planners far and wide. As the Champion program matures, I hope additional champions will help make more connections across the northeast region and deepen Chapter-level involvement in the Division. I look forward to working with you to create a sustainable future!

Joanna B. Nadeau, AICP, is one of the Divison’s sustainability champions and the director of community programs at Audubon International, headquartered in Troy, New York.

e-Bulletin for 01/26/2016

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In this issue:

  • Urban Underpasses as Public Parks
  • Airbnb-Style Rentals of Municipal Buildings
  • Real Estate Co-op and Rural Grocery Store Revival
  • And more!

Read the full bulletin online.

e-Bulletin for 01/12/2016

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In this issue:

  • Power Grows on Trees
  • Funding Support New Uses on Former Brownfield Sites
  • Strees Made For Walking
  • And more!

Read the full bulletin online.

Fourth Annual Awards for Excellence in Sustainability

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Apply by February 28, 2017

The Sustainable Communities Division is pleased to announce the call for nominees for the 4th Annual Excellence in Sustainability Awards.  These awards honor projects, plans, policies, individuals, and organizations who are dedicated to supporting and growing sustainable communities. Read more about the awards categories and the application process in this information packet.

Notes/Clarifications:

  • Errors with uploading – If you receive errors when uploading your nomination to Dropbox, please try again using a different internet browser. (Note that issues have been reported with Chrome that have been resolved by using Internet Explorer.)
  • Page and word limits – We are looking for an application that is 10 pages maximum (exclusive of forms, as noted in the packet). Those 10 pages should include a narrative of up to 1,000 words, as well as at least three graphics or photos.

e-Bulletin for 12/29/2016

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In this issue:

  • Most Popular Planetizen Posts of 2016
  • Houston’s Groundbreaking New Transit System
  • Inclusive Growth – Planning, Health, Housing, Social Equity
  • Incentive Zoning Fact Sheet
  • And more!

Read the full bulletin online.

e-Bulletin for 12/15/2016

Community Information Trust- Do Space

Community Information Trust- Do Space

 

In this issue:

  • Coworking Space for the Future of Work
  • The Success and Failure in Urbanism Stories
  • Co-ops in Zurich
  • A Dog’s Eye-view of A Walkable Neighborhood
  • And more!

Read the full bulletin online.